This past Monday morning, I was training one of my clients who admittedly needs to lose a good bit of weight. He is super-sharp in running his own company; however, one of his biggest struggles is not to allow his business to dominate his life. I have coached him over the past few months to build boundaries around his time with his family and devotion to his faith and health, yet the struggles remain. He has made significant progress; however, it’s a weekly fight not to give too much of himself to his business.
Our current focus is on nailing his weekly training frequency of three strength-training workouts plus two to three cardio sessions. Further, we are focusing on getting in all his daily planned nutrition as he tends to skip meals in the face of the sometimes crushing demands of his business.
So, towards the end of his workout, he commented that he finds it challenging to stay on track after about 2-3 days of following his nutrition plan. He said that it’s ‘hard” to stick with his plan. Now, as his coach, I immediately reminded him of the great strides he’s made and encouraged him to stay the course. He appreciated my verbal boost, and we pushed on with his training.
After our session ended, his words echoed in my ears as I was driving back home. “It’s hard to stay on track nutritionally.” And for some reason, his comment struck a chord and inspired the following:
Struggling to lose weight
Your clothes do not fit well
Struggling to find clothes in your size
Hating seeing yourself in a mirror
Lacking energy in general
Lacking self-confidence because of your current level of fitness
Not feeling confident in how you look to the opposite sex
Getting winded going up a flight of stairs
For parents, lacking the energy to play with their kids
For parents, the fear of not living to see their grandkids grow up
Taking meds for:
Type two diabetes
High blood pressure
Depression or chronic anxiety tied to your state of health
Extremely hard is:
Being diagnosed with Type I diabetes in early childhood
Being born with a life-altering congenital disability that causes you to spend more time in the hospital by age five than most people will ever spend in five lifetimes
Suffering from nerve damage in your feet resulting from a botched surgery that affects your ability to walk for the rest of your life
Losing a friend or family member to cancer or any other life-shortening illness
Going through eight major back surgeries in less than ten years and still living in daily pain
Going to dialysis three days a week with one barely functioning kidney while you’re prayerfully waiting on a donor to provide a life-extending transplant
Being a single mom struggling financially to make ends meet while providing for your family
My mentor, a New York Times best-selling author, Andy Andrews, teaches that perspective is the critical factor that can turn a negative situation into a positive one with a simple shift in outlook and attitude. The “hard” list above comprises feedback from members and clients at my gym over the past four years. The “extremely” hard list includes several examples from my life with close friends and family.
So, from my perspective, eating protein, veggies, smart carbs, healthy fats, drinking lots of water, getting 7+ hours of sleep per night, and managing stress are not hard. They’re easy. They’re a walk in the park.
I shared the latter with another member named David, who is considering working with me. He said he struggles to stay on track with his training and nutrition due to a lack of motivation. Using the motivation excuse with me is the ultimate softball pitch. If you live your life based on what you’re motivated to do, you won’t accomplish much.
Further, you will live your life on an emotional roller coaster ride. Successful people live their lives like a thermostat rather than a thermometer. A thermostat dictates its environment, while a thermometer is simply a reflection of it.
You all do things daily that you would instead not do. In some cases, you may, in fact, downright hate the given activity. Want to or motivation has absolutely nothing to do with it. You do these things out of responsibility to your family and yourself, regardless of how you feel. Your “why” is much greater than the what. And that’s the secret. You must find your why.
I shared with David a simple little exercise called the 5 Whys. In the countless nutrition consultations I’ve done in my professional career, I’ve heard members expressing their desire to lose weight. This is David’s goal; just like many others, this is not enough. So I encouraged him to dig deeper than simply wanting to lose weight. After a short discussion, we came up with the following.
1 – David wants to lose weight
2 – Because losing weight equates to being more healthy
3 – And being more healthy equates to living a longer life
4 – And living a longer life means breaking his family legacy of dying early from heart disease
5 – And breaking his family legacy means he will be around to see his grandkids grow up
Another example might be as follows:
1 – A client wants to lose weight
2 – Because they want to look better in their clothes
3 – Because looking better in their clothes makes them feel more confident
4 – And having more confidence means they feel more comfortable speaking with the opposite sex
5 – Because speaking with the opposite sex is the first step in finding their soul mate, so they don’t have to live the rest of their life on their own
As you can see, the fifth layer in both cases carries much more significance than simply wanting to lose weight.
Closing thoughts for my readers:
If you’re struggling to reach a particular goal, I encourage you to do two simple things. First, you must find your “true” why. Go through the 5 Whys exercise and find the real reason you’re striving to achieve your goal. Once you determine your why use it as a guiding beacon to pull you to success. This can be a critical factor in helping you on the days when your lack of want is working against you.
The second step is to break your goal down to the smallest action needed to be taken daily. People set huge goals that, in some cases, require an extended period to accomplish. This is fine, and I encourage you to dream big and set audacious goals. The problem comes from focusing on the end, which may be months away to the point of causing you to freeze at the moment.
I love the story told by the late great Zig Ziglar when he first got into running for fitness. On his very first day, he ran around his block one time. The next time, he ran a block and a mailbox. Mailbox by mailbox or one small incremental step of improvement at a time, and he would eventually grow to run many miles at a time, multiple days per week.
So take your goal and chunk it down to what you have to do today. And then do it. And then do it again. Small steps taken consistently can lead to massive and life-changing results.
And remember, everything worth having in life is located uphill. It will take hard work to get there and trust me; there will be days when you don’t feel like doing the work. Secret? Do it anyway, regardless of how you feel, because your why is big enough, and it will be worth it.
Best of luck in your journey.